Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Ethiopia on Tuesday and then to Niger later in the week as the Biden administration seeks to strengthen ties with African partners to counter top adversaries such as China and Russia from expanding ties on the continent.
The Biden administration is working to revive ties with countries across Africa as one of its top geopolitical objectives and Blinken will not be the only diplomat to attack the continent this week.
Under Secretary of State for Civil Defense, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya will travel to The Gambia and Senegal, while Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, will visit South Africa this week.
South Africa’s exercise with Russia, China may reflect Washington’s failed efforts to strengthen African allies
“You’re going to see this as the year of US officials traveling to Africa,” Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Molly Fee told reporters last week. “We have already seen the First Lady and Treasury Secretary, as well as Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, on the continent, and I look forward to many more leaders of the administration coming to deepen and expand our partnership.”
The visits come at a time when both China and Russia are reporting growing ties with African nations as they face growing opposition from the West.
A report released earlier this month showed that not only are China and Russia spending more on trade, infrastructure development and natural resources across the continent, but also in arms sales.
Russia and China together account for nearly half of total arms sales in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 46 percent of total arms deals in the region over the past decade.
Between 2010 and 2021, Russia accounted for 24 percent of arms exports to sub-Saharan Africa, according to data released by the Atlantic Council earlier this month, while China provided 22 percent of the region’s weapons — five more than the US. more than a percentage.
While Russia has long held a reputation as a top arms dealer in the continent, largely providing light arms and ammunition, China has only recently increased its involvement in the arms sector.
In the entirety of the 90s, China provided about $220 million worth of arms to sub-Saharan Africa, but this number began to rise in the early 2000s, and by 2010 they had provided $205 million worth of arms to the region that year alone. Did it
In 2013 alone, China exported $423 million worth of weapons to the region – a time frame that coincides with the launch of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Over a 10-year period starting in 2010, China will contribute more than $2 billion in arms sales to sub-Saharan Africa by 2021.
“It’s a lucrative business,” said Cameron Hudson, a senior associate in the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). There are 54 countries, all with different militaries and different kinds of security needs. ” Fox News Digital. “It’s a big market, it’s a growing market.”
Russian Wagner Group garners global renown from Africa to Ukraine, but division at home
Hudson explained that more limited arms sales from the US and its allies to countries across Africa adhere to the defensive standards and democratic values of the West.
“What separates these two countries from the US or European countries is that they will actively sell into armed conflict. They will actively sell to governments that have human rights records,” he said. “Our arms sales to African countries are within the context of a broader security assistance program.”
Hudson explained that the US views security assistance to sub-Saharan Africa as part of a comprehensive security package, which often includes elements outside of arms sales.
“Russia and China treat arms sales as a profit-making exercise,” he said.
Hudson explained that Russia and China’s wavering attitude when it comes to who they sell weapons to is related to the fact that it “could escalate ongoing conflicts or create new tensions” – a geo —the political quagmire Russia has already been accused of propagating.
Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group has sent nearly 10,000 mercenaries across Africa, where they have been accused of destabilizing governments, local elections and creating general unrest in the pursuit of Russian interests in resource-rich nations Is.
The infamous group, which the Kremlin still accuses of having no official ties to despite known arms support from its Defense Ministry, has also been accused of human rights abuses and war crimes in places like Mali – an issue Blinken Will address during his visit to Niger.
“Niger is a country that is surrounded by states that have been overthrown by military coups,” Hudson explained, referring to Mali, Chad and Libya. year or so.
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Although Niger remains a democracy and an ally of the US, Hudson explained that it is a “very vulnerable democracy” that is vulnerable to Russian aggression.
“Here is a country that is in danger of seeing its democratic light extinguished and at risk from Russian aggression on all sides,” he said. “Blinken is really going to help elevate them, shine a light on the democratic process, and keep Russia out.
Hudson said, “I’ll be interested to see how aggressively Blinken does this.”
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